Bryce Rudow is a freelance political/pop-culture journalist and he likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow. Go to his website and read interesting things: BryceTaylorRudow.com
Lots of music today, including a very cool contribution from guest writer Lindsay Hogan, but make sure to follow the Tunes You Should Know playlist on Spotify so you can hear every song that’s been written about in Aural Fixations at any time anywhere you go because the internet is amazing.
Onto this week’s fixations!
- Toro Y Moi – What For?
I used to think that I liked Toro Y Moi because he was a fantastic blend of R&B, indie pop, and chillwave (a genre name that is cringeworthy to type in 2015, by the way). But after listening to his new album What For? more than a few times now, I’ve realized it’s actually because Toro Y Moi is the 10’s answer to Tom Petty (and I really, really like Tom Petty).
Since his debut release Body Angles, Chazwick Bradley Bundick has, just like Petty, given off an effortlessly cool vibe with his music, even when, just like Petty, his underratedly well-written lyrics delved into ‘uncool’ things like his own insecurities or quirkiness. What really makes these two kindred spirits though, is that Toro Y Moi, over the span of multiple releases now, has been a reliably cool choice of music selection that cool people can turn to when needing to display their coolness publicly (i.e. it’s your turn to put something on Turntable.fm). Tom Petty used to be this guy. He was the guy you could throw on the jukebox in most bars and not offend anyone because it was Tom Petty and no one with a brain, a heart, and two ears hates Tom Petty.
Now, in a strange twist of influential fate, Toro Y Moi has put out an album that actually sounds like Tom Petty too. And it’s fantastic! Bundwick channels all the best parts of Gainesville’s finest — see: “Buffalo”, “Ratcliff”, or “Lilly” — while still infusing those nu-disco beats that make Toro Y Moi what Tory Y Moi is.
Not like Mr. Y Moi really needs the Aural Fixations plug, but this is going to be the coolest album to play now that it’s hot outside.
- B.A.Z. – “The Decline”, a punk rock symphony
Loud Boyz’ guitarist Alex Anderson sent me this awesome video a few days ago, and while you don’t need to know much more other than it’s a 50-person orchestra doing NOFX’s The Decline, it’s important to give the guy behind this some props.
After doing some very casual research, it looks like this was all put together by a student at the Music Academy in Nancy (in France) who goes by B.A.Z.. He wrote an orchestral arrangement in honor the 15th anniversary of The Decline and gathered 50 musicians to “play it live, once, and totally for free.”
Why did he do this, you ask?
“Just for the cause.”
So punk rock.
- Tourist – “Illuminate”
Sometimes you end up not paying attention to Soundcloud, it goes past your preferred playlist, and you end up stumbling upon something you wouldn’t ever imagine actively clicking on. So much so that it snaps you out of whatever you were doing that caused you to zone out in the first place. Nine times out of ten this is a bad thing, as that thing you wouldn’t ever imagine actively clicking on is something like trap thrash metal. But every now and then, on that 10th time, it’s an actual good song that just happens to be out of your (elitist indie) comfort zone.
“Illuminate” was one of those 10th times for me. I probably would have never actively sought out this song, but now that I’ve heard it I can’t let it go. C’est la vie.
And now, it’s time for a very special edition of…
AURAL PLEASURE WITH FRIENDS: Lindsay Hogan Edition
Editor’s Note: Lindsay Hogan has written for this column a lot, and is one of the city’s foremost house venue connoisseurs. She fastidiously keeps a very awesome calendar of cool DC shows that you can look at here.
I hope you are aware of DC’s vibrant house-venue scene and amazing DIY community. If not, BYT has got you covered with last year’s lovable series: DC DIT. Now that you’re caught up, we can continue.
The amount of house shows per week is almost overwhelming and credit needs to be given to the bands and the houses that host them. With spring upon us, I want to not forget how much winter sucked, but also give thanks for those bands who made the coldest, nastiest season bearable by melting my face off at a number of house venues around the city. – Lindsay
- Wing Dam – “Most High”
Wing Dam started off a three-band line up at the Paperhaus in early January and (without naming the rest of the line up) hands-down dominated the evening. The Baltimore group was loud and tight and served as the perfect Sunday night escapist rock bubble. They’ve been described as “deep fuzz” but I don’t think that captures their dynamic between lighthearted lyricism and strong melodic rock. If I had to highlight one song from the night, it would be “Most High,” an ideal blend of melodic fuzz with the all the light-hearted features of pop- but none of the sonic superficiality. Most High is a liberating jam that I only realized, now that’s its April, was not meant for the damp January night when it filled the Paperhaus. These guys need to be heard in the context of warmer weather and looser tee-shirts.
So lucky for all of us, they will be playing with DC locals, Big Hush on Friday at the so-new-it-hasn’t-even-been-named venue “453 Florida,” which has risen from the ashes as one of DC’s coolest new houses replacing the Communiverse (RIP). Find the show on Facebook and come hang.
- Honduras – “Borders”
Honduras won the award in my heart this winter for “most physical energy espoused in an unusually small space.” Like Wing Dam, they destroyed the early crowd on an icy night in late February at The Beehive (By the way, I could have easily written a column solely about the Beehive’s kick-ass winter shows, but I chose to diversify).
Honduras’ brand of rock is energetic, but that doesn’t obligate them to bring danceable, uncontainable energy to even the smallest living rooms in Washington, DC. Fortunately for us, they did. I recommend any band with the ability to flail around the Beehive and still skillfully execute songs. Their latest single is “Paralyzed,” but I’m still stuck on the catchy, rushing “Borders,” which has a touch of the 80’s in the vocals but is ultimately a raging and brisk garage-rock gem.
- The Obsessives – “Blackberry”
Lastly I’ll shout out to DC’s The Obsessives, who, during a sloppy snowfall in January managed to energize the crowd at the Dougout’s three year anniversary. At the end of a long, loud five band line-up, and more than a few beers, I was thankful for their relatable youth-angst and neurotic humor. Also, there’s nothing like a prominent drummer to rip you out of your stupor and re-captivate a tired crowd. Thanks guys.